Cars can be expensive to buy and maintain, and on top of that, they lose value over time. That is unless you own a collectible vehicle that will increase in value. In a previous article, we already covered some tips on how to spot future classic cars. As we mentioned there, even if a car meets all the criteria, it doesn’t mean that it’ll become a classic. So, what is the best car to buy as an investment?
To answer that question, we will cover some of the most popular classic cars here. Cars that are already established, but might further increase in value in the future. We will try to satisfy everybody. This means that below, we will have a look at classic American cars, JDM classics, and European classics. We will cover classic cars from different price ranges as well. You can also click on the links in the headlines to check a repair manual of the model.
Best Investment American Cars to Buy Today
US-based manufacturers already produced a substantial number of classics in the past. That doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. In recent years, some muscle cars from the 80s and 90s’ just started becoming collectibles. If you’re interested in muscle cars, snatching one up might be a good idea.
Buick Grand National
The Grand National wasn’t produced in the golden era of muscle cars, and that’s a good thing, in our opinion. This is arguably the best American coupe to come out of the 80s’. Don’t believe that? Just have a look at recent prices – they are blowing up. Definitely a future classic.
The Grand National was only offered in black. We think that Buick made a great choice here because black looks fantastic on the angular body. This is the closest to Darth Vader in the car industry, and almost everybody is a fan of that approach. Car enthusiasts seem to love classic cars that look menacing. You should be afraid when you see one on the road.
That 3.8L V6 Turbo Engine
Unlike most muscle cars of the era, the Grand National doesn’t have a V8 engine under the bonnet. The turbocharged V6 in the most potent GNX model made around 300hp and 400 lb-ft from the factory. That is a healthy amount of horses for an 80s car. On top of that, this engine can take a lot more horsepower, with only a few tweaks. Think of it as the American Supra.
Racing Heritage Makes for a Great Classic Car
The Grand National won the ’81 and ’82 NASCAR Winston Cup Grand National Series. Buick also borrowed it as a pace car at Indianapolis 500.
First- and -second-generation Camaro’s are already classics, but it’s the 80s’ model that started to gain popularity recently.
Muscle cars of the era weren’t exactly known for their handling prowess. The 80s’ Camaro was the first car that tried to rectify that. The suspension was tauter than before, while the body was much lighter than previous versions. The result was a much more controllable car when pushed to the limit.
Aggressive Sci-Fi Looks
The third-generation Camaro is arguably one of the best-looking cars of its era. The bold front end continues into a supercar-like side profile and sci-fi, DeLorean-like rear end. Design that certainly looks like a future classic.
A Plethora of Limited Editions
If you want a Camaro that will increase in value in the future, look no further than the special editions. The 20th and 25th Anniversary Editions are a great place to start, but the upgraded IROC-Z version is the most sought-after.
First Gen Shelby Mustang
While the original Mustang is a popular vehicle by itself, the Shelby versions are the ones that will continue to rise in popularity.
The Original Muscle-Car Styling
The beefed-up Shelby models bring the needed muscles to the “normal” Mustang. Larger wheels, racing-car-like paint jobs, and air ducts in the bonnet make the Shelby stand out. Oh, and also the famous twin stripes across the length of the car.
Every Shelby version of the Mustang has a massive V8 engine in the front. The most popular GT500 comes with a monstrous 7.0L V8 with 650 horsepower. That is a lot even on today’s age, let alone in the 60s’. The Shelby Mustangs are rockets in a straight line.
The Shelby Mustang is used dozens of times in popular Hollywood movies. The 1967 Shelby GT500 arguably had the leading role in the ‘2000 “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” Sorry, Nicholas Cage.
Dodge decided to stop the production of the Viper, with no new model on the radar. In our books, this is a recipe for making one car a future classic
V10 Thunder Under the Bonnet
Unlike other popular options from American manufacturers, Viper comes exclusively with a V10 engine, starting from the first generation. The engine alone should be a magnet for future buyers, mainly because full-electric cars are around the corners.
No Shortage of Limited-Edition Models
The newest Viper alone comes in various editions, few of them produced in a minimal run. Those editions will undoubtedly command a premium price in the future.
The Viper was only offered with a manual transmission. Sure, that is old technology by now, but things like that are what classic car enthusiasts want. In the not-so-far future, manual transmissions will be supremely rare, great news for the value of the Viper.
Best Investment Japanese Cars to Buy Today
While the Americans ruled the 60s’, 70s’, and 80s’, the Japanese took over in the 90s’ and 00s’. In these two decades, manufacturers from the east produced so many future classics that you’ll quickly lose count.
Fourth Gen Toyota Supra
The Toyota Supra Twin Turbo is becoming increasingly popular every day. Well-maintained versions without a lot of modifications went into six figures in recent years. Prices will continue to go up, mainly because Toyota started producing parts for this classic car again. That said, look for close-to-factory models that aren’t tuned very much.
The Toughest Engine in the World
The 2JZ-GTE engine in the fourth generation Supra is perhaps the most popular motor in the world. I am not exaggerating here. It is an overbuilt 3.0-liter inline-6 with twin turbochargers and 280 horsepower. Doesn’t sound like much? Thanks to the extremely tough iron block, you can easily tune this engine to 600+ horsepower. Without fuss. Some examples produce over 1,000 horses and will last for years. Most of these engines are used even today – some tuners even slapped it into the new Supra! Oh, and we’re quite sure that no automaker will ever build an engine like this. Ever!
Used in Popular Culture
The orange Supra from Fast & Furious might be the most popular movie car, ever. That is if you’re an enthusiast, of course. Thanks to the appearance in the movie, the Supra is the poster child of tuner’s culture today.
Apart from the celebrity engine, the Supra is also a very stable coupe. It can easily transfer the power from a tuned 2JZ-GTE on the road. High-speed stability is also excellent. Oh, and you can make it even better – a lot of suspension tuning parts are readily available.
Mazda RX-7 FD
The RX7 isn’t the last car with a rotary engine from Mazda, but it is still considered the best. Prices started to grow in recent years and now seems to be a perfect time to purchase one.
Legendary Rotary Engine
The turbocharged rotary engine has only a 1.3-liters capacity, but don’t let that fool you. It smoothly revs to the stratosphere (8,000 RPM) and can be tuned to over 400 hp. The RX7’s engine is also very responsive, and hey, it’s a rotary. I reckon enthusiasts will drool over this rare design in a few decades.
The RX7 might be the best-looking Japanese supercar from the 90s’. It easily looks sleeker and more elegant than any other Japanese coupe, including the Supra and GT-R. It should still look amazing in the years to come.
Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32, R33, and R34)
The third, fourth, and fifth generations of the Skyline GT-R are the most successful Japanese coupes in racing. Today, they are already considered future classics and continue to rise in popularity.
The RB26 Engine is a Tuner’s Paradise
The twin-turbocharged 2.6L inline-6 used in all three generations is one of the most popular tuner’s engines in the world. It might not be as tough as Toyota’s 2JZ-GTE, but it can still easily make 500+ horsepower without a lot of tuning. A lot of parts for this motor are readily available, too.
All-Wheel-Drive for Neck-Breaking Cornering Speeds
Skyline GT-R’s are known for their outstanding cornering abilities, courtesy of the all-wheel-drive system. You can push one to the absolute limit without worrying about losing traction. The system is also known for its ability to send 100% of the power to the rear. No other classic car from the 90s’ could do that. Oh, and the aerodynamic body also creates a lot of downforce for high-speed track driving.
Nissan chose the 2.6-liter capacity of the RB26 engine because of homologation rules for FIA’s Group A class of racing. That should tell you a thing or two about why Nissan designed this car in the first place. The street-legal model was more of an afterthought – the GT-R was made to win races. And it did just that, winning ALL 29 races of the Japanese Touring Car Championship. It also won the 1991 Spa 24 Hours and numerous other Group A championships. The GT-R is the Michael Jordan of racing.
2nd Gen Subaru Impreza WRX STI
The Impreza WRX STI is definitely the rally poster child. The second generation of the car (2004-2007) is the most beloved and continues to increase in price every year.
That Turbocharged Boxer Engine
The 2.5L flat-four boxer engine in the Impreza is super powerful and very easy to tune. Second-gen STI models made 300hp at the crank, and you can easily pump that number to over 400. Thanks to the low center of gravity, the engine helps the handling, too.
Subaru is known for their AWD systems, and by looking at the one in the STI, you can see why. Here it has a rear bias (35 to 65), which makes the whole car more controllable in the corners. Combine that with the low center of gravity, and you have a vehicle that will work on any terrain.
Petter Solberg’s win in 2003 with the second-gen Impreza was Impressive for sure, but even more impressive is the fact that Subaru offered mainly the same car to the general public. A racing car for the road almost always equals a future classic.
Mitsubishi used mostly the same recipe for the Evolution as Subaru for their Impreza. Still, the company made a name for itself thanks to an excessive amount of power these sedans produced.
Extremely Powerful Engines
Mitsubishi didn’t hold itself back when designing all Evolution models. My favorite, Evolution IX, made 371 horsepower and 363 lb-ft of torque. From the factory! It was comfortably faster than even some supercars of the era. Oh, and it is also easily modified – 500 horses are not out of reach.
Evolution models produced from 2003 to 2010 have AWD systems that could be controlled via a computer. The driver had the option to select Tarmac, Gravel, or Snow as options in the menu to maximize grip. The result? Better handling than some supercars of the era. See a pattern here?
Best Investment European Cars to Buy Today
Europe has so many classic cars to offer that it’s easy to lose count on all of them. Most of the vehicles imported in the USA come from Germany, but France, Italy, and Great Britain have their gems as well.
Audi is a company that’s known for its engineering. The S4 B5 is legendary precisely because of Audi’s excellent know-how in mechanics. It is also a car that has only recently risen in popularity. Now is the right time to purchase this future classic!
Almost every other car on this list shows how much power it has under the hood. Not the S4. Audi’s sports sedan looks understated, almost sleeper-like. Other drivers wouldn’t know what happened when you smoke them.
Ze Germans know a thing or two about engineering good engines. The 2.7L V6 is twin-turbocharged and has five valves per cylinder, enough for 250 horsepower out of the factory. Or over 350 horsepower with a simple chip tuning and 500+ with an upgraded turbo. It was available with a 6-speed manual or 5-speed auto. Enthusiasts are more appreciative of the manuals.
The best thing about the S4 B5 is that it can quickly put all of the power down on the road. The Quattro AWD system in the S4 is mechanical, straightforward, and reliable. It should easily last the entire lifetime of the vehicle.
BMW was one of the first manufacturers that made fast versions of their sedans. These cars weren’t just fast – they were a joy to drive. The price of pristine examples continues to rise every year. M3 E30, E36 and E46, and M5 E28, E34, E39, and E60 are already considered future classics.
///M for Motorsport
The “///M” Division in BMW is in charge of their racing cars, and sport versions of regular cars. This division is full of enthusiasts and people who love driving cars. It is natural then that the cars themselves will be a joy to drive.
BMW is known for producing sedans that are better to drive than their counterparts from Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The M3 and M5 models only add to that with racing-derived suspension and lovely steering.
Today’s M3 and M5 models might be turbocharged, but in the past, they were naturally-aspirated. This makes them much more responsive and better-sounding. And according to enthusiasts, better to drive on the track.
The Porsche 911 is already a collectible by now, but prices still go up. In recent years, models from the 60s’ resurged in popularity. That is especially true for air-cooled 911’s. Oh, and for the reasons why the 911 is so popular? Well, everything that we’ve said about every classic car on this list can is valid for the 911.
The best-known German sports car has the engine behind the rear axle. That is the wrong thing to do if you believe engineers. However, that is what makes the 911 so popular in the first place. No other sports car uses this configuration, anywhere. That makes the 911 a rare fish in the ocean. Unique equals future classic, remember?
Porsche 911’s from the 60s’, 70s’, 80s’ and 90’s all used air-cooled engines. This is another design decision that was behind its times, even when Porsche introduced the car. Still, that’s one of the main reasons why these cars are still popular today.
Pure Driving Enjoyment
The Porsche 911 is a car that asks a lot from its driver. Make a mistake mid-corner, and it will not forgive you – it will spin immediately. Oh, and men love to play with dangerous toys.
As you can see, many cars show promise of increasing in value over time. We are in a new wave of future classics of cars from the 80’s & 90’s era starting to become more popular. Purchasing a vehicle that you could enjoy, insure & that has to the potential to be sold for more – or the same price – that you initially bought it for is a great way to experience a car that has an investment like qualities. We’ve covered just a handful of those we see making moves in the market today, and many more cars are beginning to show promise as future classic cars.
Do you own a car that’s a classic or soon to be? Let us know what you have in the comments below!